Posted on | October 18, 2012 | 19 Comments
“The front page of Thursday’s Washington Times features a story about how the Obama administration’s ‘war on coal’ has thwarted plans by the tiny Appalachian town of Grundy to expand its airport. The hostile regulatory climate imposed by the president’s environmental agenda has been a steady theme of Romney’s stump speeches. The coal issue also resonates in Ohio, as well as Pennsylvania, which RCP likewise counts as a battleground state. Coal-industry advocates in Grundy are planning a rally Sunday, and their story could help dramatize the economic costs of the administration’s anti-coal policies.”
— Robert Stacy McCain, “Obama’s Hope Fades in Virginia,” The American Spectator, Oct. 18, 2012
The population of Grundy, Virginia, is 1,105. It is the county seat of Buchanan County, population 23,581, where the median household income is $29,183, far below the U.S. median average of $51,914. This community, about 10 miles from the Kentucky border and 15 miles from the West Virginia state line, is quite obviously in need of economic growth — so why is the Obama administration standing in the way?
Officials from two Southwestern Virginia counties say a project vital to the area’s economic development has been held up for years because of a dispute with federal regulators over what is an airport and what is a coal mine.
Local leaders say the three-year battle with the U.S. Office of Surface Mining over plans to extend the runway at Grundy Municipal Airport has cost taxpayers in this poverty-stricken corner of Appalachia millions of dollars in lost opportunities, and a list of regulatory hurdles remains before construction can even begin.
“We were attempting to permit this project as an airport project, not a coal-mining project,” said state Sen. Phillip P. Puckett, a Democrat from Lebanon who has been involved for three years with the effort to lengthen the runway from 2,200 feet to more than 5,000 feet — the length needed to comply with insurance standards for corporate jets. The holdup: Federal regulators have refused to allow the runway project to go forward without a mining permit because of the coal deposits below the land that will be dug up during construction.
“That’s where the permitting process got caught up — in determining whether it was an airport project or a mining project, by the Office of Surface Mining in Washington,” Mr. Puckett said. “We’ve tried to resolve that with them for the last couple of years. We’ve had very little success.”
Regulators contend that a mining permit is needed because local authorities plan to sell the coal dug up in extending the runway to help finance the overall project. . . .
Read the whole thing at the Washington Times. People everywhere should be outraged by this: A poor Appalachian town’s best prospect for promoting economic development held up for three years because the radical environmentalists appointed by President Obama are determined to destroy the coal industry. (See my Oct. 8 column, “Counting on Coal Country,” for more background on Obama’s “war on coal.”)
The federal Office of Surface Mining might as well be re-named the Office of Abolishing Surface Mining under Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar who, as Michelle Malkin has detailed at length, is a top enforcer of Obama’s environmental agenda.
Grundy is 53 miles from I-81, but it’s a winding two-lane mountain road so it takes an hour and a half to drive it, which tends to discourage potential business investors from visiting the town. If the town could extend its airport runway, executives could fly in and out, and light commercial aviation might even help promote tourism. (“Ski Grundy,” perhaps?) But no — the project would involve coal mining, and the Fanatic-in-Chief at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is beholden to tree-hugging freaks, so he cheerfuly pisses away millions of taxpayer dollars on bankrupt “green energy” boondoggles, while his bureaucrats crush hope for the people of Grundy.
In the War on Coal – It’s Grundy vs. Obama
— Matt Vespa, Hot Air Greenroom
Why Does Obama Hate Coal Miners And Appalachia?
— The Lonely Conservative
Grundy will have a rally Sunday to show “support for American coal jobs and the people who work in our industry.”
If the Romney campaign would grab hold of this issue, they could make America understand how Obama’s “war on coal” is hurting real people and hindering economic recovery.